In honor of my 21st wedding anniversary today, I thought I’d share some thoughts I had on a lesson I learned this year. I hope you’ll be blessed.

Ephesians 5:22 says “Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord.”

Ephesians 5:25 says “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her”

In a culture that elevates personal freedom to an unbiblical level, it is difficult for a wife to believe she is actually called to obey her husband. And the husbands aren’t exempt from any blame in the controversy this passage tends to stir. Many of them want to be obeyed even though they aren’t loving their wives like Jesus loved the church. And so the vicious cycle begins.

Maybe we’re confused about what it really means for a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church. Maybe we don’t see the beauty in Biblical submission.

Recently my husband and I had a disagreement about how I should handle an issue that had come up with a friend of mine. In helping me work through it, he had to say something to me that was difficult for him to say and just as difficult for me to hear. He prefaced it with reminding me that he is called to love me like Christ loved the church. I chose to truly listen and not rebel against his words. As I tried to sort through our differing perspectives, I stopped and thought about what he had said about his call to love me like Christ loved the church. What exactly does that mean?

Does it mean he…

  • Listens attentively when I talk? (Which, by the way, is a lot of talking to listen to.)
  • Unloads the dishwasher?
  • Is a great Dad to our children?
  • Takes me out to dinner?
  • Supports my dreams?
  • Is well respected at church?
  • Brings home a comfortable paycheck?

While all of those things are nice and do reflect the Christian character called for elsewhere in the Bible, and while my husband does these things to the best of his ability, I don’t believe they are descriptions of how Christ loved the church.

No, Christ loved the church “So that He might sanctify her,

…having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, that He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless].” Eph. 5:26-27.

Christ loved the church by revealing God to us.

Without Christ there is no way we could get a glimpse of the nature of God, let alone experience a connection with Him. Jesus became like us so that He could relate to us through our way of understanding things. We can’t fathom the sacrifice that it took for Him to live among us, as one of us. But He did it so God could be revealed.

Christ loves the church by conforming us to His own likeness.

We cannot become like Him in our own strength. It is only through the sanctifying work of Jesus Christ that I can become holy like He is holy.

Christ loved the church by sacrificing himself.

Instead of the death that we deserved, we may have everlasting life because Christ stepped in and paid our penalty.

I believe that when the Bible tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, it is referring to a man’s responsibility to point her toward God in all circumstances of life, to present her to Christ as holy and unblemished. God placed husbands as head of their wives, not to be in control over them but to protect them, to present them as holy, radiant, and blameless.

It’s up to him to follow the leadership of Christ. It’s up to you to follow the leadership of your husband.

God spoke to my heart that day and reminded me that He had placed my husband in his role as the leader of my household for such a time as this. He was guiding my husband and providing him with the clear perspective and wisdom that I would need to get through this situation. It wasn’t about his opinion versus mine. It wasn’t about him guiding me toward the action that would benefit him.

It was about me submitting to the way of the Lord by submitting to the counsel of my husband, whom the Lord ordained to be my “head.”

God also reminded me that I, just like Eve, had been allowing Satan to whisper lies to me. God did not bring up that truth to condemn me, but to show me that my perspective was not necessarily based in truth. My husband, on the other hand, was not being deceived and could see my situation through the lens of truth.

And his motivation in counseling me was my purity, my holiness, my radiance before Christ.

When I started looking at my husband as my protector I had no trouble submitting to him. I actually felt a great sense of comfort, even beauty. God had sent me my own personal spiritual bodyguard.

I chose on that day to abandon my own idea of what I should do, including what I thought I needed, and to follow my husband’s advice and counsel.

Knowing the importance of my husband’s role, I pray for him daily. Because he is under the leadership of Christ, I know that God is giving him wisdom and guidance. That means I can trust his direction.

Do I resent having to submit to my husband? Absolutely not.

No more than I would resent or resist a fire fighter who has entered my burning house and had the nerve to ask me to follow him. I’ll never resent my husband for leading me toward the saving grace, freedom, holiness, and radiance that comes through Christ, the same Christ who will present me without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.


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